Imagine, crunchy green beans with flavourful chilli and shrimp paste. This is a tasty Malay-style dish which is best eating with a bowl of hot rice. It is a popular twist of the classic dish, Kangkung Belacan (water spinach with chilli and shrimp paste).
What is Belacan Long Beans?
Belacan Long Beans consists of two main ingredients, belacan (shrimp paste) and long beans. This dish is simple to prepare as you only need to stir-fry it with onions, garlics, and chillies. In some versions of the dish, shrimp or anchovies can also be added to give extra flavour.
History of Belacan Long Beans
Long beans are vegetables that have been eaten for many years and is usually grown at the tropics area. It is a type of legumes commonly found in Southeast Asia. The long beans also are known by the name of Yardlong Beans, Chinese Long Beans and Asparagus Beans.
It is not to be confused with the common green bean. Long beans generally grow on climbing vines while common green beans are produced by a plant. Besides, long beans differ in taste compare to green beans as it has a more pronounced taste and is not as sweet as the latter.
Belacan is a kind of fermented shrimp paste commonly found in Malaysia and Singapore. It is typically made from tiny shrimps known as krill. The shrimps are steamed, mashed into a paste, and then fermented. After the fermentation process, they are fried and shaped accordingly either into square or round blocks.
Belacan is known to have a pungent smell with a salty taste and is commonly used as a natural flavour enhancer in Malay dishes. The exact history of Belacan is unknown though there are theories that believe that it originated from Malacca and Penang. Two authors in the 18th century mentioned this unique shrimp paste in their books.
In 1812, a dictionary by William Marsden documented the word balachan that brings the meaning “caviar made of shrimps”. Then, in 1833, Isabella Bird published her book entitled “Golden Chersonese” and “The Way Thither” which mentions that blachang was made by “trampling a mass of putrefying prawns and shrimps into a paste with bare feet”.
Health Benefits of Belacan Long Beans
Its primary ingredient, long beans is a low-calorie vegetable that contains high content of fibre. Thus, it provides sufficient amounts of dietary fibre as all parts of it can be eaten. High fibre foods aid the digestive system and reduces LDL-cholesterol levels.
It also contains a plenty of vitamin A, B complex, and C. Besides that, long beans provide average amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, and magnesium. Many studies have suggested that consuming green vegetables can decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. However, because belacan contains high sodium which may contradict the health benefits of long beans, it is usually used sparingly in the dish.
Where to find Belacan Long Beans in Malaysia
The majority of Malay and Chinese restaurants in Malaysia serve Belacan Long Beans as it is popular, simple to prepare and tastes delicious. You can get Belacan Long Beans as a side dish at Champs (Bukit Bandaraya), or you can try Belacan Mixed Bean from Chuck Two Sons (Mid Valley). The Belacan Mixed Bean contains not only long beans but also has French beans, lady’s finger, and petai. Find more of Malay cuisine on foodpanda!